Catering Mark customers spend £40m on Red Tractor products
Published:  31 March, 2016

New research has highlighted an increased spend on British, farm-assured and organic products in the catering sector. 

According to The Soil Association’s Food for Life Catering Mark, there is now over £40 million (m) spent on Red Tractor-assured meats by Catering Mark holders per year, increasing from £23m in 2014. In addition, £9m is spent on organic, £5m on Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and £4.7m on free-range (including RSPCA and Freedom Food certified products) through the scheme.

The Food for Life Catering Mark is an independent certification that encourages caterers in schools, nurseries, hospitals, universities, care homes and business and industry to serve more freshly prepared meals, using Red Tractor-, free-range, Linking Environment and Farming (LEAF) and MSC-certified products.

This follows the news from this year’s Organic Market Report, which showed that sales of organic had risen 4.9% in the last year and the organic catering sector had increased by 15.2%. More than £9m is now spent on organic food through the Food for Life Catering Mark, an increase of 28.5%.

Rich Watts, senior Catering Mark manager, said; “The growth of the Catering Mark is providing the opportunity for the public to eat more freshly prepared, ethical, sustainable food that meets nutritional guidelines. But more than that, it also provides a fantastic opportunity for producers that comply with the Catering Mark standards to supply to Catering Mark menus across the country. Following an increase in sales for many producers this year, we expect to see further growth in the coming 12 months, so the next challenge will be keeping up with demand.”

The independent verification of the Catering Mark is designed to help commercial caterers secure contracts and to be used as a significant marketing tool when communicating to customers the efforts caterers go to in serving food that is better for people’s health and the environment. There are over 1.6m Catering Mark standard meals being served every working day across the UK.

Collectively, Catering Mark holders spend:

  • £40m on Red Tractor 
  • Over £9m on organic 
  • Over £5m on MSC
  • £3m on free-range
  • £1.4m on RSPCA-assured
  • £1.4m on LEAF
  • £0.4m on Fairtrade

Through the Catering Mark gold and silver scheme, caterers are awarded points for increasing their use of Fairtrade, British and organic ingredients.

The Catering Mark also helps towards good or excellent performance by caterers against the award criteria in the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra’s) Balanced Scorecard for public procurement, including food production, social and economic value and quality.

Dr Peter Bonfield, who originally developed Defra’s Balanced Scorecard, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to inspire businesses and caterers to improve their environmental performance and show a clear commitment to buying fresh, healthy, locally sourced, sustainable food and champion British producers via the Red Tractor scheme. The Food for Life Catering Mark is making it easy to verify a good or excellent score across all areas of the Defra Balanced Scorecard for public procurement, including food production, social and economic value, quality and now resource efficiency too.”